I have an old Rockwell/Delta 14" bandsaw. Old enough that the pulleys
on the backside are exposed. 1940's?
I got Duginske's video and am in the process of sprucing my newest
The tensioning guide on the back has markings labeled 1/4 and 1/2 on
one side and 1/8, and some other numbers on the other side. Between
them is an opening in the casting in which I can see the tensioning
spring. I don't see any way to read the tension without some sort of
pointer or needle to indicate the tension it's at. Am I missing a
piece or is there some other way to read this?
The distance between the smallest number and the largest numbers
looked like a pretty good stretch.
Mine's a '54. (I know because I contacted them about parts and by the s/n
they told me the age.
Look here (on page 2):
or look for the appropriate date on the Delta list:
Thanks. In the manual at the first link you suggested, the tensioning
method for that saw says to tension until a red fiber washer lines up
with the desired number. I must be missing a part, because there is
nothing back there like a red fiber washer. If it's something that
degrades and crumbles with time, it may be long gone.
The line drawing on page 5 is a side view, so I'm still not sure what
I'm looking for. Looking for a photo is probably hopeless.
I'll restudy the situation tomorrow.
On page 4 (labeled Fig. 5 on that page), there is a mech. dwg. of the "Upper
Wheel Hub & Tension Assembly". The fiber washer is labeled, LBS-112. It is
between the spring and the square nut (LBS-111). Even if the fiber washer
is missing, it is the top of that square nut that you want to line up with
the marks. The fiber washer is just there to reduce wear between the spring
If I have some time tomorrow, I'll try to take a couple pics if that doesn't
Well, once again you guys have come up with exactly what I needed.
I looked at it again this morning, found the still faintly red washer,
and got it all worked out. I haven't run it yet. (I just got back
from chasing down a new fan belt.)
I downloaded the original manual from OWWM (and made a Paypal
The Iturra catalog is on its way. (You're right, there is no
I don't think I'll futz around with the spring unless I become
convinced that it has lost tension or unless Iturra has some
intriguing upgrade, but how to replace it certainly isn't immediately
obvious. I'll take the warning, it looks like it could be a Pandora's
The collective know-how of you guys is amazing, and people are willing
to take the time to give full and complete answers. I am very
appreciative of all the help I get here.
Unless it's changed, it wasn't hard at all on the newer model I have.
You just have to remove the upper wheel and upper wheel guard and then
unscrew the tension rod all the way out. You can't get the block to
slide far enough to get the spring out with the guard in place. It's
maybe a 15-20 minute job.
He does in fact have a new spring replacement. It has
been widely sold by several companies. The high tension
spring does in fact make a big difference. Read the
Iturra catalog and order up.
The installation is 15 minutes if you are really
Replacing the spring is awfully easy. When you order it, consider
ordering one of the extended tension adjusters as well. I've never
been convinced that keeping tension on a blade when it is not running
shortens the life of the blade, but I do feel that it might contribute
to the tires taking a set. So, relieving the tension while the saw is
not in use probably makes some sense.
I do a lot of metalworking, so making up an extended shaft was easy.
Fitted it with a quill feed handwheel from a Bridgeport mill. Now, it
takes just a couple of seconds to crank a half-dozen turns on the
handwheel and relieve the tension when I'm done cutting. Sure is
easier than cranking on the original Delta "faucet knob" tucked away
in a hollow in the guard.
Iturra sell an extended shaft & handwheel setup very similar to what I
If yours is a wood/metal saw, the other thing I'd recommend ordering
right away is a tube of the blade cutting lube/wax. I haven't
measured it, but steel cutting seems to go about twice as fast with
the lube. The tube will last forever.
There is usually a block which the tensioning screw pushes against to
compress the spring and it's the bottom of this block which is usually your
indicator against the scale on the casting. If it's just the fiber washer
that seems to be missing it looks like an easy fix and you are in for some
fun, my friend! Congrats! BTW, in Duginski's book he says how much he
likes these bandsaws. Yea, I'm envious!
The pointer is the thin washer at the bottom of the tension spring.
That said, it's only a rough guide at best. The springs can weaken
with age. Blades - even of the same width - are available in
different thicknesses, each requiring a different tension setting.
Some blades are designed to run at low tension, others are not. Most
bi-metal blades cut best at high tensions, for instance.
I have an old Delta Milwaukee wood/metal saw, with riser block. I use
it to cut everything from 1" steel plate to green logs so big I have
to split or chainsaw them to get them under the guides. Over the
years, I have probably broken more blades than I have worn out. Those
that have broken I'd guess broke not from over-tensioning but from
overheating or from bending due to inadequate tension.
I now have a new high-tension spring on it. I still use the old
markings as a starting point, but usually add tension from there. I
could be wrong, but it's my understanding that the tension levels
generated are still well under the manufacturers' recommendations, and
that a saw like the 14" Delta cannot over-tension a blade of 1/2" or
more even cranked all the way up.
Send for the Iturra Design catalog. It is an incredible information
and product source for bandsaws, and particularly for the 14" Delta.
I don't know if they have a website yet - toll-free phone is
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